From the Vineyard Gazette edition of June 12, 1959:

The question now before the Northern Hemisphere in general is, How close can you get to summer?

We are inclined to think that those who rise fairly early, say around 5:30, on any sunny morning on Martha’s Vineyard in this month of June can walk with summer hand in hand. Why the early rising? Well, it is only in the first innocence of dawn that summer offers herself frankly and without disguise. Later on she hardens her attitude, at least by observable degree, and allows herself to be surrounded by defenses, subterfuges, excesses or indifference.

Summer, take it all in all, is not a simple thing. Science has isolated some components of the overall complex, and the Weather Bureau has even come up with a discomfort index kept by some of those other sadists in the government service. The thing to do, though, is not to worry about an index or a weather map, but to rendezvous with summer at the proper time and place, when relaxation is the first principle and contentment dwells on every side.

The fragrances of June — as for example that of the rugosa roses, the flowering crabs, shrubs and grasses on every hand — are like balm applied to the wounds of the beleaguered and bedeviled winter. No such goings-on now. Freshness and warmth combine in the morning air, the sunshine spreads out in peace on shore, sea, and upland.

You can get very close indeed to summer if you know how.

The Island is now engaged in the comedy-drama of the phenomenon known as strangers coming to town. We do not mean to use the word “comedy” in the sense of amusement especially, and certainly not at all in the sense of farce; but the performance, or pageant, is a light-hearted affair, even though some people manage to reach Martha’s Vineyard only through grim determination. Remember, all such, if it were not a little hard to get to sometimes, it wouldn’t be the Vineyard!

Strangers on the wharves, strangers here and there about the streets, in the restaurants, on the roads, on the beaches, in the stores. If a chemistry student drops a quart of red dye into a tub of water, the water becomes all red. When summer drops an indeterminate number of strangers into the life of the Island, it becomes — what? Well, a vacationopolis, maybe. The word is not in Webster yet, but don’t be impatient; it may be.

The newcomers are by no means all strangers, but even the great proportion of old friends heightens the June transformation. The Island is essentially the same, but it has different atoms and takes on a different, brighter, more seasonable color, like a bed of gaillardia or salpiglossis or even of helianthus grandiflora.

Prominent among these new arrivals, and helping tremendously to make the Island a vacationopolis, are the children and dogs, emphasizing that summer is in part a family season and even in greater part a season of the young.

Strangers in town! The cry is an old, old one, and nobody rushes to the window any more, or even stretches a neck to peer along the street. Things are as they should be. The season has begun.

The decision of the state Department of Public Works to change traditional methods of roadside care on the Vineyard is distressing and unfortunate. What it means is simply this:

For many years, the resident highway crew of the DPW has moved and trimmed roadsides, with the result that they have been neat, green, and inviting, with hedgerows of remarkable beauty in some places, vistas across moors and old pastures in others, often the blue sea in the background, with everywhere a margin of grass and wildflowers. In short, the Vineyard roadsides have been an important part of the Island’s summer attractiveness, an invaluable asset for what is known as the recreational industry.

It goes without saying that an Island such as Martha’s Vineyard presents special problems. An Island always does. But certainly the best solution had been found, and just as certainly the method of caring for roadsides was not only reasonably inexpensive but productive of intangible values hard to estimate.

Now the decision of the DPU is to ignore not only the special problems of the Island but its requirements and opportunities as well. The order is that grass is to be killed by spraying wherever there is a guard rail — and everyone knows how many guard rails there are, and for what distances. Rectangles of dead grass are to be maintained where, in years past, the DPW had earned and received enthusiastic praise for its constructive realization of a scenic resource. The basic flaw is in ordering that Martha’s Vineyard should be treated as if it were no different from the mainland. It is different. It has highway mileage that can and should be cared for by the old method. Any added cost will leave the Island far short of its proper allocation of the highway funds.

Compiled by Hilary Wall